Saturday, June 19, 2004

....In the Christ Gibson finds the homoerotic ur-text behind the Nazi love of the beautiful blonde boy his taut body blossoming with his own blood at each bite of the whip....We are unable to understand contemporary history and the psychotic bases of American ideology because we have not yet learned how to read Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow. I hope on another occasion to offer an extended discussion of all that this seminal work offers the student of ideology, the revolutionary nature of its insight into the capitalist mind and how it teaches us both to read and to practice the discipline of the image. For now I must condense that contribution into three concepts: (1) Pynchon reveals the constitutional stupidity of official rationality and its underlying madness; as in the fetishizing of any and all information (as if there was a precious secret that each inmate of Abu Ghraib could render up to Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Rice, Perle et al). (2) The excessive actions that official rationality necessarily gives birth to are a result of the underlying paranoia and the desire for omnipotent control that results. (3) This disorder is fatally wedded to the effort to transform eros into thanatos so that there will finally only be one thing—the imposition of technoscientific rationality on the entire globe. Such is the categorical imperative of late capitalism in its Empire phase. Study of the image remains the way to combat it because the image reveals what it conceals. In doing so image addresses us at those psychological and emotional registers of our being that we are losing contact with more each day. They can be reawakened only by desperate measures....

From a thoughtful essay by Walter A. Davis: The Bite of the Whip: Passion of the Christ in Abu Ghraib

I've been reading, and enjoying, Jan Swafford's biography, Charles Ives: A Life with Music, about another Yankee genius who managed to break out of his milieu's cultural expectations box. "Creative artists were something that, for the most part, old-fashioned Connecticut Yankees notably were not," Swafford writes. "Practical musicians they were....The rare composers of concert music, however, had to justify their profession to dubious countrymen....Connecticut men of letters were less likely to write imaginative fiction than to be teachers, such as Yale's Timothy Dwight, or nuts-and-bolts scholars like Noah Webster, the dictionary man....Born both a Yankee and an artist, Charles Ives was predestined to a divided nature." Pynchon's not from Connecticut of course, but he shares Ives' Congregationalist roots, and as I've been reading this biography I've wondered if Pynchon might also have had to overcome a similar cultural predisposition against art for art's sake. Another similarity between the two artists: Ives mixed popular American and high European culture elements to create a native American music, just as Pynchon combines pop and high culture elements in his work.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Why am I not surprised that the Line, in all its destructive Vistoid glory, turns out to be where VP Cheney hunkers down since 9/11 in his "undisclosed location" pulling the Bush puppet strings and pushing the US into a racist, imperialist War That Never Ends? Sez New York Times book reviewer Michiko Kakutani:
...Mr. Bamford unearths ... the identity of one of the undisclosed locations used by Vice President Dick Cheney after 9/11 (Site R, a secret military command post on the Maryland-Pennsylvania border)...

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Jeffrey Eugenides and Jim Lewis discuss literary modernism in The Father of Modernism. Lewis mentions Pynchon in the lead article of the exchange:
"...what did I actually learn—from Barthelme or Pynchon, or for that matter Beckett or Raymond Queneau, or for that matter Joyce or AndrĂ© Breton? That writing has infinite possibilities, yes; but not all of them are equally worth exercising."

The Babies of Wackiness guide to Vineland can be downloaded as a .pdf, Otto said in a PYNCHON-L post today.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Jack Parsons & The Curious Origins of the American Space Program by The Magician surfaced on PYNCHON-L, with an intriguing table of contents:

Part 1: Hermes, the Ontological Detective
Part 2: The Suicide Club Gives Birth to Both the U.S. and Chinese Missile Programs
Part 3: The Slaves Shall Serve
Part 4: Abreaction Therapy
Part 5: Rocking to Amargi
Part 6: Exodus
Part 7: Sex and the Single Succubis
Part 8: Conservation of Momentum
Part 9: Paradise Lost
Part 10: The Cult of Intelligence
Part 11: The Book of the Antichrist
Part 12: Stairway from Heaven
Part 13: Sacred Tunnels
Part 14: The Tyranny of the Black Brotherhood
Part 15: Mute Testimony
Part 16: My Name is Zak
Part 17: Stab Your Demoniac Smile to My Brain!
Part 18: Bloody Dichondra
Part 19: Axe Me No Questions
Part 20: Manuscript Found in an Urn
Part 21: Leaving Mecca
Part 22: The Square Root of Minus One

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Road to Surfdom juxtaposes statements made by President Bush on the 2003 U.N. Day in Support of Victims of Torture, with the August 2002 Justice Department memo prepared for White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales. Read it, then Pynchon's Intro to 1984.